I think you get by now that I’m a pretty spiritual person. I love God above every person in my life and I unapologetically live my life to please and serve Him. I try to obey His instructions to me; not only those instructions in His word but the instructions that He gives me every day as He guides me through life. I have a strong conviction to live my life in obedience to Him and I try to honour Him in all that I do. I believe that a big part of Him placing me out here in the world is in order to groom me for some future endeavour that includes people. Which is why Halloween was a testing ground for me.
Now, people, Halloween is not a thing that I’ve ever “celebrated.” I’m from Jamaica and except for a few North American ex-patriates we basically don’t do Halloween there. I’ve never been interested in it because why would I want to glorify the grotesque? I don’t even watch mild horror movies, much less to pour fake blood over myself and pretend that I’m the “undead.”
So here I land in Yakutsk and Halloween is not a part of their traditional culture so it wasn’t really a thing here either, except that now it is because, well, America is everywhere, isn’t it? And because my school tries to give its clients a western, English feel, Halloween is definitely a thing there. Decorations, costumes, trick-or-treating, Halloween lessons. The works.
Back in my people-pleasing days, I would have scared up (pun intended, tee hee) a costume and gone along with it all, no matter what my religious convictions were. I’d want to be a part of the fun and do what the group was doing and not go against the tide so as not to upset anyone or seem weird.
But two weeks before Halloween, as I sat in a teacher’s meeting and listened to the updates and instructions on the school’s programme for the “holiday,” I knew this was one I would miss. After the meeting, I quietly let my immediate supervisor and the person in charge of HR know that I wouldn’t be dressing in a costume or participating in the activities because of my religious convictions. Thankfully, they needed no further explanation and said it was no problem.
During the week before Halloween whenever people asked me what I was going as, I’d say with a chuckle, “I’m going as Kristine. It doesn’t get better than that.” They would laugh and drop it, not knowing that I was dead (another pun intended; I’m killing it today. Ah, pun again!) serious.
I only made two concessions. Last Saturday, which was just a few days before Halloween, I was scheduled to do a demo lesson at school and all demo lessons that day were required to be Halloween-themed. I told my partner that I’m not into scary things, plus we deliver demo lessons to younger age groups and I’m not about scaring young kids. So we kept it as light as I could get her to go.
The other concession I made was in decorating the classroom. All teachers are assigned responsibility for a classroom, which is generally the one that they teach in the most. I share my classroom with another teacher and since it was a requirement that the room had to be decorated and I didn’t feel right about leaving her to do it on her own, I helped her cut up and hang garbage bags and pumpkins and spiders. I checked in with God to see if that was OK and I didn’t feel that uncomfortable feeling I get when I’m doing something wrong so I think He saw the intention of my heart to stay removed from this gruesome, grotesque “holiday” while not coming off as holier than thou.
One other concession that I made was with respect to Halloween lessons. All of my classes had Halloween activities built into the curriculum. At first I was going to totally ignore that, skip over the Halloween lessons and just continue with the syllabus. But then I decided to turn those classes into crafting lessons, since I recognised that my kids love to cut and glue and colour. So I had two older groups watch Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and we did some puzzles and exercises from that, then I had them make Frankenstein masks from paper plates. For my younger groups, we spent the entire class time colouring, cutting and gluing monsters – the innocuous kind that you see in cartoons. I absolutely and totally ignored Halloween for my very little kids, though. They’re still firmly into unicorns and Hello, Kitty. There was no way I was letting them do anything even vaguely Halloween-related.
So far in my teaching career here, I’ve gotten several compliments on how I handle the children, manage my classes, and deliver my lessons. But I can say without reservation that my Halloween lessons were the most boring I’ve ever done, and it’s one hundred percent because I was not inspired and didn’t want to be a part of supporting this type “holiday”.
So that’s how I got through Halloween. I hope I did the right thing in the concessions I that made. I know that God will let me know if I didn’t!